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There have been several articles and editorials in the Dispatch during this past week regarding the debate around school choice and the number of options that students and parents have here in Vance County.

One of the more controversial aspects of this discussion is the issue of diversity, in particular a perception among many that some charter schools are not interested in having a socioeconomically or racially diverse student population. This perception is often based upon a lack of knowledge of the guiding mission and values of many charter schools. In an editorial on Aug. 24, your paper articulated this dilemma by stating that “maybe the charter schools should encourage more non-white parents to apply.”

The city of Henderson and Vance County have just such a charter school — Henderson Collegiate. At the core of what we do here at this school is a commitment to serving a racially diverse and socioeconomically disadvantaged student population. Over 90 percent of our student body is non-white and 80 percent are economically disadvantaged. This is why we have made expensive outputs for bus transportation and provide free and reduced meals.

And we do this for two reasons. First, it is simply the right thing to do in a society that claims to be moored in Christian values and that thus embraces redemption and second chances. Second, because serving this population is essential if Vance County’s educational and workforce skills development is to be dramatically improved, thus allowing this county to become a more fully integrated partner in our global economy. We believe it is vital that the Dispatch learn about and articulate this reality to the Vance County public when the paper engages discussions regarding charter schools and school choice.

Henderson Collegiate embraces the challenge of educating a diverse and at-risk student population. We invite all to learn more about us and visit our school.

Aaron Walker
director of development, Henderson Collegiat

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